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Retro Meets Modern – Guide to CD Players

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CD’s, just the term sounds “retro” these days let alone cassettes tapes, but low and behold CD’s are still here. And despite the CD market gradually slowing due to the music streaming era we’re in right now, the CD format still maintains sales and distribution around the world. As for cassettes, there’s been a big resurgence recently with mass amounts of artists releasing their new records onto the cassette format. Now that’s a blast from the past. 

Let’s face it, you’d be hard pressed to find a friend or family member who doesn’t still have a CD collection of sorts somewhere in the house, or maybe stashed in the garage or shed. Regardless of where they’re stored, we’re still holding onto them. Maybe it’s about having music that you’ve purchased and it’s a tactile, physical thing. Perhaps enjoying the high-fidelity experience of CD playback that tickles your fancy, or maybe even the nostalgia of making a mixed CD (or cassette tape) for a friend or high school sweetheart. Frankly, we dare not speculate.

Whether it’s for professional broadcast purposes, installations or general home listening pleasure, plenty of pro audio manufacturers are in the production of CD players/recorders and for some, cassette players too. We’re going to take a look at a few options out there for the CD enthusiast who might be on the hunt for something new. Some designs keep it simple and reliable, others are adding some more modern features for a good all-round product. We’ll let you decide what’s going to best fit your bill.

Simple but Effective

A simple design is always a good one. Something that doesn’t compromise on quality, is sturdy, reliable and won’t let you down. Tascam have done just that with the CD-200, the company’s entry level CD player. It’s easy to use functionality paired with its high-quality TEAC drive (which supports CD-R and CD-RW) make this unit a great choice for those needing a machine that effortlessly plays their CD’s, whether it’s loaded with high fidelity WAV files or MP3’s. A few rather nice features include ± 12.5% pitch control, several playback modes, both analogue and digital outputs and included remote control.

Retro Meets Modern – Guide to CD Players

Best of Both Worlds

Sometimes its nice to have the option of both CD and USB playback. Luckily there are some great players available that do this very well. The Denon DN-300C MKII is a solid, slim 1U entry level CD/media player which includes USB thumb drive playback compatibility, a 3.5mm stereo input and the added feature of tempo control, a nice touch. Balanced XLR or unbalanced RCA outputs give good connectivity options too. A simple design full of features.

Another to look at is the Numark MP-103USB. This unit offers a few sweet features such as 4, 8, 16, 100% pitch control and master tempo, auto BPM counter plus more. USB drive and CD/MP3CD support give this compact player several ticks for versatility and includes RCA and XLR balanced outputs for quick and easy system connection.

Retro Meets Modern – Guide to CD Players

All the Technology

Having the ability to stream your music remotely can be most desirable, especially these days of  digital streaming age. Thankfully there are some superb CD players that allow you to enjoy these modern features. Tascam’s new CD-400U does just this, plus it’s got some other tricks up its sleeve. This slender 1U ultra compact player is fully spec’d for modern-day demands. CD playback including WMA and MP3 files is available, then there’s the option of audio playback or recording to SD card or USB with a choice of MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA formats, pretty cool. Here’s where it gets really interesting as the CD-400U also has Bluetooth apt-X codec for high quality audio streaming. If your connected Bluetooth device supports AVRCP it can be controlled by the CD-400U’s included remote control too. To top it all off there’s an FM and AM tuner built in plus the option for external control via ethernet, making this a truly all in one powerhouse unit.

Retro Meets Modern – Guide to CD Players

Denon’s DN-700C Network CD/Media Player is a great option for the professional broadcast or install situation. Being able to playback multiple audio sources gives the unit flexibility. USB playback formats include .wav, .mp3, .aiff, .m4a and .aac and of course CD playback for MP3 and CD-DA. The DN-700C can also be remote controlled via IR remote control, parallel (GPIO), RS-232c serial control or network controlled via the built-in web-GUI for true install application. There’s even remote control over pitch and tempo on an iOS device, giving this unit even more flexibility to be used in a multitude of spaces.

Retro Meets Modern

As we mentioned earlier, increasing numbers of artists are releasing their music on cassette, confirming the analogue resurgence is in full swing. But how many of us still have a cassette player to bust out these new tunes or dig into the vintage collection at home? Or what if you wanted to throw on a CD, then switch it up to a cassette and then playback or record to USB? This brings us to one final, pretty awesome piece of gear. Tascam’s CD-A580 is a combined CD player, cassette deck and USB recorder. This incredibly versatile player/recorder allow for recording from CD with ±10% pitch control, on the cassette deck you can playback and record Types I (normal), II (high) and IV (metal) and with the USB you’re able to record MP3 files from CD, cassette or line input. The possibilities are near endless on this machine and it’s got some really intuitive and helpful functions built in including numerous playback options, automatic and manual file division when recording and much, much more.

Retro Meets Modern – Guide to CD Players

As we’ve discovered in this article, the CD player is still very much alive and kicking. With some of the biggest pro audio manufacturers designing some tremendous products from simplistic to fully featured players for playback and recording, across multiple mediums. So, if you’re looking to dig into that old collection of CD’s or cassettes and combine them with more modern tech, you’re certainly not shy of top-quality options for some listening sessions or for making some mixed CD’s or cassettes of your own.

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